Disgraceland

By Mary Karr b. 1955 Mary Karr
Before my first communion, I clung to doubt
         as Satan spider-like stalked
                the orb of dark surrounding Eden

for a wormhole into paradise.
       God had formed me from gel in my mother’s womb,
                injected by my dad’s smart shoot.

They swapped sighs until
         I came, smaller than a bite of burger.
                Quietly, I grew till my lungs were done

then the Lord sailed a soul
         like a lit arrow to inhabit me.
                Maybe that piercing

made me howl at birth,
         or the masked creatures whose scalpel
                cut a lightning bolt to free me.

I was hoisted by the heels and swatted, fed
         and hauled around. Time-lapse photos show
                my fingers grow past crayon outlines,

my feet come to fill spike heels.
         Eventually, I lurched out
                to kiss the wrong mouths, get stewed,

and sulk around. Christ always stood
         to one side with a glass of water.
                I swatted the sap away.

When my thirst got great enough to ask,
         a clear stream welled up inside,
                some jade wave buoyed me forward,

and I found myself upright
         in the instant, with a garden
                inside my own ribs aflourish.

There, the arbor leafs.
         The vines push out plump grapes.
                You are loved, someone said. Take that

                and eat it.

Source: Poetry (January 2004).

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This poem originally appeared in the January 2004 issue of Poetry magazine

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January 2004
 Mary  Karr

Biography

Poet and memoirist Mary Karr was born in 1955 and raised in Texas. The author of several critically acclaimed books of poetry, including Abacus (1987; reprinted 2007), The Devil’s Tour (1993), Viper Rum (2001), and Sinners Welcome (2006) she is also the author of a trilogy of memoirs: The Liar’s Club (1995), Cherry (2001), and Lit (2009). Karr’s poetry and prose frequently include autobiographical elements, including her . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Religion, Landscapes & Pastorals, Christianity

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

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